Friday, April 4, 2014

Day 27: Images of God's Eternity

"and they did not know the secret purposes of God,
nor hoped for the wages of holiness,
nor discerned the prize for blameless souls; 
for God created us for incorruption,
and made us in the image of his own eternity,
-Wisdom 2:22-23

A rabbi friend of mine once said that a piece of advice he’d heard for every Jew was to carry two pieces of paper, one in each pocket.  In one pocket would be the words, “Remember thou art dust, and to dust you shall return.”  In the other pocket would be the words, “For the sake of one man, God created the world.”

Remember thou art dust.  At the beginning of Lent, those impossibly busy weeks ago, most of us stopped and received ashes on our foreheads while our priests recited those words.  We are fallible, mortal, prone to mistakes and shortsightedness.   On a geological time scale all of humanity has occurred within an eye-blink, the flashing of a firefly.  We are the tiniest of creatures, within an achingly short lifespan.  And when we are done with that tiny life, yes, we do turn back into dust and earth.  Nothing we do can alter that fact.

Life is short.  I re-discovered a slip of paper I’d kept from our training weeks in New York, one in which I’d written several meaningful quotes from the weekend.  My favorite began with that sentence: Life is short, and we do not have too much time to gladden the hearts of those who journey with us.  So be swift to love, and make haste to be kind. (Henri-Frederic Amiel)

The follow-up of that quote is why it is still my favorite.  It leads right back into the second passage the good Jew should keep in his pocket, and into the quote from today’s readings.  God made our lives fleeting, but imbued with meaning.  We were created to be like God, to act with love towards everyone, to value the life of each person we meet as if they were worth the whole world.  We were made of dust to be bearers of love.  The immenseness of time, the hugeness of our galaxy and vastness of space isn’t simply a call for us to be ashamed, to humble ourselves against a world that is always larger than we can truly comprehend, a God bigger even than that.  It’s also a challenge to fill that space with what it is to be images of God.

That challenge to love deeper, purer, more fully, is as much a part of Lent as the challenge to forget ourselves and our self-importance.  Remember you are dust.  Remember you are the chosen child of God.  The call of humanity is the tension and truth in between these states.

Margaret Clinch is 28 years old and from the Diocese of Southern Ohio. 
She is serving as a teacher at Easter College in the 
Diocese of the North Central Philippines.

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